Monday, March 12, 2012

Working On My Personal Image

Many years ago I decided to reduce the amount of paper in my home office. I had desk drawers and file cabinets filled with bank statements,vendor invoices, purchase records and other paper documents. These dated back at least seven years or more. The older ones were removed and stacked in boxes in the closet.

Everything from our tax returns to the bill of sale for a purchase of a major appliance was carefully filed. Of course, 98% of these documents were never again touched after they had been handled once and put away.  Yet, it was always a challenge to find that one particular page you really needed somewhere among the other 2%.

While I was CIO at an insurance company, a system for imaging documents was introduced and successfully implemented in the claims department. This had the effect of reducing mountains of paper and rows of file cabinets to digital images which were accessible by anyone from anywhere. No more lost files. No more outdated copies. No delays in obtaining information. It even allowed more than one person to have access to the same file at the same time. It also freed a lot of office space and removed desk top clutter.

With a strong desire to do the same at home, I took a look around and I found an affordable solution. For about $100 I purchased a single sheet scanner which came with a complete imaging package. It was rudimentary, only allowing you to scan one page at a time. You could create folders and organize your documents accordingly. I created an initial set that mirrored the folders in the drawers of my desk and file cabinet, and set about reducing my massive accumulation of papers.

It's been over 15 years and the system has served me well. Papers stack up for a while and then I have a scan-fest. But hard drive space is cheap and plentiful. Once scanned the originals are discarded. I have never had an issue finding or printing a copy of any document I needed.

There have been many updates along the way. New releases of the software were clearly worth the small investment. New features and improvements were introduced. I can nest folders and choose their colors. I can scan documents in full color including high quality images of photos.

The scanner itself has also been replaced twice, upgraded each time to a better, faster, higher resolution model. I am still limited to one page per scan but I plan for my next upgrade to include a sheet feeder.

Thanks to my wonderful  imaging system, I now have room in all those drawers for cables, connectors, old cell phones and a variety of other obsolete equipment.

Captain Joe


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